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Couple Win Racially Charged Custody Fight

Associated Press
Wednesday, January 5, 2000; Page A11

CHICAGO, Jan. 4—A wealthy and politically prominent white Chicago couple won their custody fight with a recovering black cocaine addict and today were named the permanent guardians of her 3-year-old son.

Circuit Judge Judith Brawka's ruling transferred guardianship of the boy known as Baby T from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to appellate Judge Anne Burke and Alderman Edward Burke, who were already the boy's foster parents.

Brawka was brought in from Kane County to ensure that the Burkes' influence in Chicago politics would play no part in deciding custody.

Brawka's ruling turned down a request from the boy's mother, Tina Olison, for overnight visits with the youngster. She currently is allowed to visit Baby T for four hours every other week. Brawka's ruling gave her one additional visit each month.

Olison said she would appeal.

"I am disappointed," she said after the hearing. "I had hoped for more time, and I hope it will be increased."

Olison had waged a two-year custody fight for her son, who was born with cocaine in his system.

Brawka ruled in March that Baby T should go back to Olison, saying at the time that black culture should be a factor in Baby T's upbringing.

But on Oct. 19, Brawka reversed herself, saying Baby T should remain with the Burkes for the time. She expressed concern that he was having trouble adjusting and said Olison had been feuding with her social workers.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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